First-year Curriculum

The First-Year Curriculum

Your first semester of college can be a challenging one. So much is new and unfamiliar: new living arrangements, a new community of students, increased responsibilities, greater academic challenges. The First-Year Curriculum provides students with support and guidance vital to academic success, and it promotes both engagement and reflection.

We encourage you to explore new intellectual realms by taking a broad range of liberal arts courses throughout your first year at Lang, but we also provide a unique set of courses designed to facilitate your transition into the academic life of the college. These seminars introduce you to a range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. They are also forums in which you can engage in intense discussions with your classmates and professors as you develop the skills you need to grapple with challenging material and diverse perspectives.

First-Year Advising Seminars

Your first-year advising seminar is a regular four-credit academic class; the professor of the course also serves as your faculty advisor. These seminars draw upon a professor’s expertise in certain areas and topics, but they are all designed to be useful and accessible for students across a wide range of interests and academic goals. In addition to teaching this course, your faculty advisor is available throughout the semester to discuss academic policies, registration for classes, and other important matters with students individually or in group appointments. All first-year students must be registered in an advising course for their first semester at Lang.

Every fourth class session of the first-year seminar is a workshop led by the Lang First Year Fellow assigned to your course. Your First Year Fellow is an upper-level Lang student who serves as a peer advisor throughout the semester. These workshops address the transitional issues often confronted by first-year students at Lang. They are designed to help you develop skills in time management, good study habits, critical thinking and seminar discussion techniques, and personal health and safety.

First-Year Writing

All freshmen are required to fulfill two semesters of expository writing: Writing the Essay 1 and Writing the Essay 2 (4 credits each).

Writing the Essay 1 is an intensive seminar for first-year students to help them develop their ideas through reading and writing. Instructors choose literary topics on the basis of their interests and expertise. The topics, which vary in scope and approach, are geared toward the work of writing and revising essays. Students experiment with a variety of expository and creative styles and proceed through the semester from familiar writing (the personal essay) to more analytical writing (the critical essay). You will emerge from this course with more confidence in your ability to formulate, develop, and express your ideas with the written word.

In Writing the Essay 2, students resume the work of the first course with activities that develop a clear and forceful prose style through close reading and consistent writing and revision. Students are expected to learn research methods and produce at least one in-depth essay that requires library research. Each section of the course may focus on a specific discipline—such as literary criticism, psychology, or cultural studies—and its mode of essay writing (with reading and inquiry conducted at a higher level than in the previous semester). Writing the Essay 2 prepares students for the challenges of writing in a variety of concentrations, since expectations often differ among the disciplines.